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BUSH EVOKES CARDINALS' HALL-OF-FAMER
Reggie Bush scored on a 46-yard run from scrimmage in the first quarter and on an 83-yard punt return in the third quarter in the Saints' 45-14 win over the Cardinals. Bush is only the second player in NFL history - and the first in more than 60 years - to produce touchdowns on a rushing play and a punt return in a postseason game.
The only other player to do it was Hall-of-Famer Charlie Trippi, playing for the Chicago Cardinals in the 1947 NFL Championship Game. Playing against the Eagles, Trippi scored on a 44-yard run in the first quarter and on a 75-yard punt return in the third quarter. The Cardinals went on to win the game, 28-21, the only time in their history that they have won a league championship game.
Bush was also only the second player in NFL postseason history to score a touchdown of 80-or-more yards and another of 40-or-more yards in the same game. Ricky Sanders had touchdown receptions of 80 and 50 yards in the Redskins' 42-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. (Those were two of Washington's five touchdowns in the second quarter of that game.)
WARNER EXTENDS ONE STREAK, BUT ANOTHER ENDS
Kurt Warner completed 17 of 26 passes for 205 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the loss at New Orleans. That was the 13th postseason game of his NFL career, and he extended to 13 games his record of consecutive postseason games passing for at least 200 yards.
But for the first time, Warner failed to throw a touchdown pass in a postseason game. Warner had thrown a touchdown pass in each of his 12 previous postseason games, and his failure to do so on Saturday left him one game shy of the longest such streak from the start of a career in NFL history; Dan Marino threw at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 13 postseason games.
DECISIVE LOSS ENDS CARDINALS QUEST FOR SUPER BOWL RETURN
The Saints' 45-14 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday marked the largest margin of defeat in NFL postseason history for a team trying to reach the Super Bowl for a second successive year. The previous record was set in the 1982 postseason, when the Jets defeated the Bengals, 44-17, in a first-round game the year after the Bengals had lost Super Bowl XVI to the 49ers.
DEJA VU: COLTS HOLD RAVENS WITHOUT TD, ADVANCE TO AFC TITLE GAME
The Colts held the Ravens without a touchdown while intercepting a pair of passes and recovering a pair of fumbles as Indianapolis advanced to the AFC Championship Game. In case you're thinking, "I've seen this movie before," you might be thinking of the 2006 postseason, when exactly the same thing happened in a Ravens-Colts playoff game.
For sure, there were some differences... The game three years ago was played in Baltimore, and the Ravens, rather than the Colts, were coming off a bye. But the similarities are striking, as the Colts won, 15-6, three years ago and by a 20-3 score on Saturday night.
It's only the fourth time in NFL postseason history that one team has beaten another twice within a four-year span, while pitching a "touchdown shutout" in each case. The Baltimore Colts beat the Browns twice in that manner in 1968 and 1971; the Giants dominated the 49ers in the 1985 and 1986 postseasons; and the Eagles stopped Tampa Bay in that manner in 2000 and 2001.
COLTS WIN DESPITE SOME PALTRY NUMBERS ON OFFENSE
There have been 455 postseason games in NFL history, and the 455 winning teams have earned those victories in a variety of ways. But the Colts' offensive formula for defeating the Ravens was almost unrecognizable: Indianapolis averaged only 1.68 yards per rushing play and only 5.07 yards per pass play.
There have been only two other postseason games in NFL history in which the winning team averaged less than two yards per rush and less than six yards per pass play. In 1984, the Giants beat the Rams, 16-13, while averaging 1.48 yards per carry and 4.34 yards per pass play; and in the 1999 postseason, the Buccaneers defeated the Redskins, 14-13, averaging 1.63 per rush and 4.32 per pass play.
EVEN LARRY BROWN HASN'T SEEN MANY LIKE THIS,,,
Larry Brown's Bobcats outscored the Suns, 43-22, in the first quarter of their game at Charlotte on Saturday night and went on to an easy 125-99 victory. That was the 1,930th regular-season game of Brown's NBA head-coaching career, and it was only the second time in all of those games that his team took a lead of more than 20 points into the second quarter.
Back on Feb. 22, 1977 - yes, that's nearly 33 years ago, but Larry Brown was coaching then - Larry's Nuggets (think David Thompson, Dan Issel, Bobby Jones and Mack Calvin) outscored the Rockets, 45-23, in the first quarter en route to a 118-106 victory.
Back to the present... Charlotte actually led Saturday's game, 103-64, with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. That's the largest lead that the Bobcats have owned at any point in any of their 448 games in franchise history.
DURANT PAINTS A MASTERPIECE
Kevin Durant provided 36 points and 10 rebounds while connecting on 14 of 18 field-goal attempts as the Thunder defeated the Heat, 98-80, in the NBA's battle of atmospheric conditions. Durant became the first NBA player this season to have a game of at least 35 points and 10 rebounds in which he made at least 75 percent of his field-goal attempts. He also equaled the total of such games - one - that Michael Jordan had in his NBA career.
Durant has now averaged 32.5 points per game in 12 games since Christmas - the highest scoring average for any NBA player over that 23-day period.
JAMES SCORES 13 IN FOURTH TO LEAD CAVS
It was a weird one at the Staples Center. The Cavaliers spotted the Clippers a 10-0 lead and then neither team scored in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, but Cleveland walked away with the 102-101 victory.
The key: LeBron James' 13 points in the fourth quarter, lifting his season total to 280 fourth-quarter points (in 42 games), the highest total by any player in the NBA this season. James has led the NBA in fourth-quarter points twice in his career - in the 2004-05 and 2007-08 seasons.
RANDOLPH LEADS GRIZZ TO 8TH STRAIGHT HOME WIN
Zach Randolph had 23 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 8-of-15 from the floor in the Grizzlies' eighth straight home victory, a six-point win over the Spurs. Randolph's statistics over those eight games just about mirror what he did against San Antonio - he has averaged 25.8 points and 15.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field.
In their 15th season, the Grizzlies have finally achieved an eight-game home winning streak. No other franchise in the history of the NBA went this many years without having done that.
DAVID LEE PUTS UP DAVE DEBUSSCHERE-LIKE NUMBERS
David Lee put up some outstanding numbers in the Knicks' 94-90 road loss to the Pistons, scoring 26 points with 17 rebounds and nine assists. Yes, he just missed a triple double by the margin of a single assist, but there have been plenty of players who have earned triple doubles.
On the other hand, it has been more than five years since the last time that an NBA player had at least 26 points, at least 17 rebounds and at least nine assists in one game. Kevin Garnett was the last to do it (35 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists), while still with the Timberwolves in 2004. And only one other player in Knicks history has had a game in which he had at least 26 points, at least 17 rebounds and at least nine assists. Dave DeBusschere did that in a 124-102 victory at Houston on Dec. 20, 1972, posting identical numbers to Lee's on Saturday night - 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.
FOR FIRST TIME SINCE NOVEMBER 28: "GOAL BY ALFREDSSON"
Daniel Alfredsson returned to action after missing 11 games due to a separated shoulder and contributed a goal and two assists in the Senators' 4-2 win at Montreal. Even before he was injured, Alfredsson had not scored a goal in his last 13 games, but his goal on Saturday night - his first since November 28 - ended the longest drought of his 14-season NHL career. Alfredsson's longest goalless stretch before this season had been 11 games in 1998.
LIKE OLD TIMES: DIPIETRO WINS HOME-ICE SHOOTOUT
Injury-plagued Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, making only his second appearance of the season and his first on home ice in more than a year, posted a shootout win against the Sabres on Saturday night. DiPietro lost his first shootout at Nassau Coliseum to Buffalo in November 2005 but he's 10-0 in home-ice shootouts since then - an NHL record for consecutive shootout wins in home games.
TOEWS A THIRD-PERIOD TERROR
Jonathan Toews scored two goals in the third period to help the Blackhawks overcome a 4-3 deficit and beat the Blue Jackets, 6-5. Eleven of Toews' 16 goals this season have come in the third period; the only NHL player with more third-period goals is the Rangers' Marian Gaborik, who has 13.
AULD WINS IN SHOOTOUT
The Stars posted a 3-2 shootout victory over the Red Wings in which Detroit failed to score on any of its six shootout attempts against Dallas goaltender Alex Auld. (Auld made four saves and two shots missed the net.) Three other NHL goaltenders have won a shootout this season in which they faced six shots but allowed no goals: Buffalo's Ryan Miller (Oct. 24 at Tampa Bay), Montreal's Carey Price (Nov. 17 vs. Carolina) and San Jose's Thomas Greiss (Dec. 31 at Phoenix). Coincidentally, each of those games also ended with a 3-2 final score.
MALHOTRA 12-FOR-12 IN THE CIRCLE
Manny Malhotra assisted on two goals and won all 12 of his faceoffs to help the Sharks pick up a 4-2 win against the Oilers. The only other NHL player this season to have a perfect night in the faceoff circle in a game in which he took at least 10 draws is Derek Roy, who was 14-for-14 in the Sabres' 3-0 win over the Islanders on November 4.
LATENDRESSE KEEPS IT SIMPLE: 3 SHOTS, 3 GOALS
Guillaume Latendresse notched the first three-goal game of his NHL career in the Wild's 6-4 loss to the Coyotes and he did so despite having only three shots on goal in the game. The only other NHL players to record a hat trick this season while scoring on every one of their shots on goal were Florida's Steve Reinprecht (October 30 at Dallas) and Calgary's Rene Bourque (December 28 at Edmonton).
JOVANOVSKI ASSISTS ON 4 GOALS
Ed Jovanovski assisted on four of the Coyotes' six goals in their win against the Wild. Jovanovski set a career high for assists in one game and equaled the single-game high by a Coyotes defenseman since the team moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996. The other Coyotes defensemen with four-assist games were Oleg Tverdovsky (January 1997), Teppo Numminen (March 2002) and Keith Ballard (January 2006).
AN OLD STORY: KOVALCHUK GETS ANOTHER VS. HURRICANES
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers in their win against the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Kovalchuk has recorded 31 goals in 46 career games vs. Carolina, and has the most goals by any NHL player against the Hurricanes since the team relocated to Carolina from Hartford in 1997.
VOKOUN TURNS AWAY 47 SHOTS
Tomas Vokoun stopped 47 of 49 shots on goal to lead the Panthers to a 5-2 win over the Lightning. Vokoun is 8-5-1 against Tampa Bay in his three seasons with Florida and in four of those eight wins he has made at least 40 saves.